PARISHIONERS, family, friends, fellow priests and colleagues joined a chorus of celebration for Brisbane archdiocese’s ordered and diocesan priests for the Presbyteral Jubilee Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral on July 17.
A total of 21 jubilarians celebrated at the Mass.
Diamond jubilarians were Fr Pat Dowd, Fr Vince Hobbs, Fr Denis Long and Carmelite Father Jerome Watt.
Golden jubilarians were Bishop Bill Morris, Fr Peter Casey, Fr Leo Coote, Fr Joe Duffy, Fr Bernie Gallagher and Fr Jim Spence.
Ruby jubilarians were Fr Peter Dillon, Fr Gerry Hefferan and Fr John Kilinko.
Silver jubilarians were Fr David Batey, Fr Mauro Conte, Fr Damian McGrath, Fr Paul Murphy, Holy Spirit Father Thomas Kessy, Holy Spirit Father Gaspar Mushi, Pauline Father Albert Wasniowski and Deacon Gary Stone.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrated the Mass and testified to the importance of priesthood in his homily.
Archbishop Coleridge said on his recent Ad Limina visit, in audience with Pope Francis, the Holy Father said there were four “closenesses” that were essential to a flourishing priesthood.
These were closeness to God, closeness to his flock, closeness to the bishop and closeness to Church.
“And the Pope said, if the priest is close in those four ways then whatever the battering, whatever the storms that may come, you will see the truth, the beauty and the power of the Catholic priesthood,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
It was these “closenesses” that resonated with the former and current parishioners, old friends and family from all corners of Queensland who journeyed to celebrate with their pastors.
A busload of 11 Beaudesert parishioners, driven out by Beaudesert parish priest Fr Kevin Njoku, came to St Stephen’s Cathedral to see Fr Gallagher celebrate his golden jubilee.
The leader of the Beaudesert group Kathryn Cahill said Fr Gallagher, who was a former parish priest there, was a much-loved member of the community.
“He was very assiduous in seeing us all, he knew us,” she said.
“He could know our faces, he didn’t always know our names, but that didn’t matter, he knew we were of the flock.
“He smelled strongly of the sheep and he still does.
“We’re very pleased to see him today, celebrating his jubilee, and we congratulate him and thank him and all his fellow celebrants today.
“We are so grateful for the care they’ve given all of us through the years.
“They get a bad press sometimes, the priests, but not in our books.”
Another group of close friends of Maroochydore parish priest Fr Joe Duffy sat around him before the Mass started, discussing how he married them and shared in great life experiences together.
The group had grown up together and stayed in contact all the while.
Leta Robey, one of Fr Duffy’s close friends, said he was a wonderful friend.
“(He was) always full of integrity and good humour,” she said.
“And his music abounds beyond anybody else these days.
“He can sit at the piano and play anything from his memory, from just his wonderful talent with music.
“I could not speak more highly of (Fr) Joe, with all his principles in every walk of life.”
Outside, after the Mass, old friends got a chance to take photos and reminisce with the priests.
Margaret Crawford, grandmother of Fr Gallagher’s great-grandnephew, said the jubilee was a beautiful event.
“It was very reverent and very special,” she said, particularly seeing the procession of all the priests walking in together.
She said the homily was particularly impactful, in tune with where the Catholic faith was today and where it would go into the future.
Part of the homily focused on the mysterious identity of the priest during the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance.
Archbishop Coleridge calls the language of St Paul in Galatians 1 extraordinary – when Paul said God was pleased to reveal his son in him, not through him, but in him (Galatians 1:16).
“Paul says, ‘I become the revelation’ and that’s the language of sacrament,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“In other words, men chosen from the community to embody the crucified and risen Christ, those who take on the ‘I’ of Jesus.
“Consider that in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the priest says, ‘This is my body’, not the body of Jesus – he says ‘my body’.
“So the priest takes on the ‘I’ of Jesus; this is something mysterious and extraordinary.
“The same thing happens in that most intense moment when the priest absolves the sinner in the Sacrament of Reconciliation – ‘I absolve you’.
“How could he, as a man, absolve anyone from anything – it’s the ‘I’ of Jesus that he takes on or that takes him on.”
Archbishop Coleridge said the totality of Christ’s call, the call that claimed everything, and the mysterious human “yes” to that call was what was being celebrated at the jubilee.